The trouble with using dog boots to provide indoor traction is that a dog's paw is essentially round, and booties (or anything that is not really snug and form-fitting) tends to spin on the dog's paws. Then, you end up having the "traction" tread material on the top of the foot and the slick non-treaded material at the bottom of the foot. The other issue is that most dog boots are not breathable. Since dogs sweat through their paw pads, excess moisture in the boot can lead to skin breakdown, abrasions, and rubs.
The Dog Boot Exception
Pawz Dog boots are the exception. Though originally made to protect "big city" pups's paws from salt and chemicals on the sidewalks, these booties have since been adapted as great traction aids. Advantages include:
- They are made of lightweight, natural, and disposable rubber.
- They provide circumferential traction so even if they spin on a dog's paw, the dog will still have traction.
- Most dogs tolerate them very well.
Since these booties were not originally intended as traction aids for long-term, indoor wear, and since the neck of the bootie can be a little snug, I have made some slight modifications to the design and application so that the booties can be applied easily and be worn for up to several days at a time. All you need is the Pawz Dog boots some Elastikon elastic tape, and a scissors. See video below.
Modifications to the Home
Beyond applying traction aids to a dog's paws, an injured or “disabled” pet can be made “abled” by modifying their lifestyle and environment. Adding indoor ramps or block steps to the couch or bed can help a dog maintain independence. Dogs need to be acclimated to using ramps or steps in both directions. Wide, gently sloping, sturdy ramps and steps with textured surfaces are most inviting and safest.
An unstable or injured pet can maintain better balance on a rubberized or carpeted floor. Ultra-thin yoga mats are a great way to provide islands of traction on slippery floors. Yoga mats are inexpensive, stick to floors, and provide great traction from one area of your home to another. They are lightweight, easy to wipe clean, and easy to apply, remove, and transport as needed. I must admit I own about half a dozen yoga mats - I love the ultra-thin mats for traction and even have one in the car to bring with me to the veterinarian's office where the floors can be slippery. I like the thicker, more cushioned yoga mats as an alternative to a dog bed, that I can easily take with me so that my dog can lie down comfortably anywhere.
Carpet treads stick directly to most wooden stairs and instantly provide traction, turning an otherwise hazardous obstacle into one that allows safer passage. Regardless of treads, it is always a good idea to help your dog safely up and down the stairs using a supportive harness or sling. For short excursions, I really like this sling - it's wide-based and padded for ultra comfort. Pet gates can also be used to deny stairway access and prevent accidental falls in a physically compromised pet.
Keeping your dog safe while in the home takes just a little effort but can go a long way toward improving your dog's independence and confidence. The easier you can make life for your dog the easier life will be on you.
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